Quad vets celebrate support | News
Quad Vets new Program Director Sidney Woods welcomed guests to a celebration at the facility Tuesday to thank them for playing a vital role in the program – the financial backing for helping homeless veterans.
He officially became program director June 1, but he had already hit the ground running over Memorial weekend. He and his wife cancelled their plans for Memorial Day, so they could spend time with the veterans and could cook up 50 deer burgers for them to enjoy.
Woods has also already held a crawfish boil for the veterans, which is something they have never had here. Following this week’s celebration, Woods is turning his attention to heading up a 10-gun raffle and starting Veterans Giving Back, a volunteer program for veterans to give back to the community.
“It’s about veterans but also about the donors because if we didn’t have donors none of these guys would be here,” Woods said.
“Every penny we get goes to take care of these guys here,” he said, adding that they take care of all their needs from getting them washing detergent to feeding them three square meals a day and keeping a good roof over their heads.
Westmore McNabb, a 71-year-old Vietnam veteran who has been working the program since September, thanked Woods for helping him.
McNabb said that through the program he has learned a lot – from how to save money to being responsible. Without the program, he believes he would either be dead or still on the streets.
“I’m glad to be here because it’s a good, safe place; all you have to do is follow the orders and do what you’re supposed to do,” he said.
Woods believes being a veteran himself helps in his new role.
“I think the biggest thing is they know I can relate to them because I’ve been through everything they’ve been through,” he said. “I fought in the Gulf War. It’s not a job for me. It’s a passion, and I tell them all the time it’s a passion for me.”
Tuesday’s VIP celebration is an annual event, but this year marked the first time it was held open-house style.
Quad Area Executive Director Wallace Sibley believes they will continue to use this model.
“We always thank our big givers, but with the COVID, the big change was from selling $5 tickets to asking people for $500 to get all tickets sold, which produced a list of VIPs,” he said. “This is what this represents – people that helped us out in big ways.
Donors who helped Quad Vets in this big way were invited to the event, he said.
People got to see where their money went while also meeting the veterans who are right here in Hammond, he explained.
“We have the best facility in the U.S., we have the highest success rate in the U.S., and so when you give money to this organization, 100 percent of it goes to these guys,” he said.
Among celebrity guests were Kinion Bankston of Southern Boyz Outdoors, Ronnie Adams and Bruce Mitchell of Swamp People and Chase Tyler from Chase Tyler Band. Among local leaders in attendance were Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office Chief Jimmy Travis, Albany Mayor Eileen Bates-McCarroll, Albany Chief of Police Boyd Wild, Tangipahoa Parish School Board member Randy Bush and Ponchatoula Police Chief Bry Layrisson. U.S. Congressman Garret Graves was present.
Layrisson said he strongly supports veterans and never hesitates to donate time or money to this organization.
He said his parents raised him to support the service and sacrifice of veterans. What is done in this facility where veterans get a second chance and are provided homes and jobs is amazing, he said.
“Most organizations we donate to don’t reach out to us, so it’s so special to me to one be able to come out here, to visit with our veterans, to be able to thank them in person, to be able to help cook these meals and provide these meals for them. It’s just wonderful,” Layrisson said.
Troy Davis, owner of Hammond Mobile Homes, said he strongly supports all military and plans to give away a military Mini Cooper through Quad Vets for Christmas.
While he is not a veteran himself, his brother and mother are, so it is very close to home for him.
“Anytime I can support the veterans and help out in any kind of way, I’m there supporting them,” Davis said.
Jeff Petkevicius cooked barbecue, and Paul LeBlanc cooked jambalaya.